Brrrr…. It is cold!!! Is it me or did we just go from summer to winter in record time? I was walking through a parking lot this week and noticed that the leaves are just starting to fall. I’m used to walking through the leaves before Halloween, but they didn’t seem to be there last week. Now we have also had our first ‘major’ storm of the season… or was it? Just this week we enjoyed the last tomatoes from our garden the same day that we turned on our heat in our greenhouse.
Well, with this cold and stormy weather remember to protect those marginal plants and yourself. Bundle up those plants and add a layer as well if you are headed out to work in the garden.
This week we featured...
Bailey New Introductions
The 2015 growing season is just around the corner and for the gardener that means new plants. Bailey Nurseries is a major grower/wholesaler in the United States and they have 2 large growing operations here in Oregon. In late August they had a day where they invited the media out to their growing facility in Yamhill. We met with Natalia who shared 3 new varieties of plants that they will have in garden centers in 2015. The first ones we saw were a few crape myrtles. These were part of the ’Magic’ series of crape myrtles and were bred to be a little shorter than the older varieties, reaching 10 feet or less in height. That means that they are also good for in a patio container as well as in the ground. We next moved to the hypericum or St. John’s Wort. These varieties were introduced this year, but you will see more of them next year in your garden centers. One variety that we saw was called Red Flame. This one was loaded with flowers and those deep red glossy berries. This is a great plant for bees and other pollinators in the late summer and early fall. These new varieties tend to stay small as well and also work well in pots and containers on a deck or patio. Finally, we looked at a new hydrangea on the market. Bailey came out with the ‘Endless Summer’ series of plants a few years ago and now they have 4 different varieties in that series. Now they are introducing the ‘Bloomstruck’ series of plants. These are potent rebloomers and will continue to throw out new blooms all summer long! Be on the lookout for these great plants next year in your local independent garden center from Bailey Nurseries.
Fall is the time for squash, but for a lot of people they are afraid to try any of the many varieties from this tasty family of gourds. Brian from Bauman’s Farm and Garden (503-792-3524) joined us to tell us about all the wonderful squashes they have at the store including varieties like the delicata, the hubbard and the spaghetti squash. Acorn is one of the most popular, but Brian told us that if you just eat acorn squash you are missing out on some other great tasting varieties. There is the butternut squash which is great in soups. The spaghetti squash is known for its stingy texture which reminds people of spaghetti. We also saw the Baby Blue which was a smaller version of the hubbard squash. It is almost a single serving size of squash. Gold Nugget is tasty and also very small so there is no waste. Brian then talked about the best squash for pumpkin pie. Most people think you use an actual pumpkin for baking, and you can, but it has too much water and can make a very runny pie if you are not careful. The majority of pumpkin pies that you buy now use the Sweetmeat squash. It has the same color, texture and taste, just less water. All these squash are easy to prepare and great tasting, but the delicata is one of his favorites. And they are very easy to prepare. Microwave on high for 3 minutes, poke some holes in it, microwave for 3 more minutes, poke a few more holes, microwave a final 3 minutes and you are done. Cut it open and serve. If you have a larger squash with a thicker skin, just use a knife and a hammer to cut them open. Place the knife on the pumpkin/squash and tap it with a hammer until you cut through the tough skin. Slice the larger gourd into chunks and bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minute and check to see if it is easily pierced by a fork. When it is, take it out and remove the skin and puree. Serve alone or with butter and brown sugar. If you would like more recipes or help in choosing a great squash stop by Bauman’s, check out their Facebook page, or give them a call.
Garden Gallery Stocking Stuffers
Some people are just hard to find a gift for. They seem to have everything or they want nothing. To get some ideas for these hard to shop for people we stopped by Garden Gallery Iron Works (800-452-5266) and talked with Don Sprague for some tips on what to get. He started with Christmas stockings. He told the story about Saint Nickolas and how he dropped coins down a chimney to provide a dowry for a gentleman’s poor daughters. They have a ton of different styles of stockings including ones that are for pets. If your family member already has a stocking, they also have sports themed gifts, personal products like hand creams, soaps and warm, fingerless gloves! There are also wine and beer themed gifts. One of the most impressive displays they have are the Kelly Rae Roberts collection. Kelly Rae is a writer and motivational artist. Garden Gallery Iron Works has the largest selection of this great art work in the country! If the person on your list is into larger pieces of art, maybe a custom made table and chairs or a bench or BBQ? There is so much to choose, we are sure you will find something for everyone on your list. They are also having lots of events over the holiday season leading up to Christmas. November 15th is their Open House and Kelly Rae will be making an appearance in December. You can always contact the store for details!
We heard of a great little company that is making the coolest wreaths, but when we contacted them we found out a lot more about this story. Kenyon Fink is the owner of Kenyon Growers. This is a company that sells and ships cut flowers around the US and the world. We heard that they had a lot of plant material that was left over in the fields and in their facility. Their idea? Build some really cool and unusual wreaths. When they did that it really took off! That is when they formed MyWreaths.com (503-706-8550). We met with Kenyon and he told us how they build the wreaths and what motivated them to start making them. The original idea came from Kenyon’s foreman, Jose, and it just exploded from there. They already had a hugely successful business but they just didn’t want to see all this waste on their farm. We also found out that they like to have a lot of fun while they work, and with names like Solstice Twist, Jubilee and Holiday Shuffle on their wreaths they are sure to make anyone smile. They make these wreaths so that they age ‘gracefully’ too. Some people leave them up long after the holidays because they last and generally don’t fade too quickly. If you would like to pick up a wreath from them you can click on their Etsy site or visit the Portland Farmers Market in the Park Blocks near PSU.
Lan Su Mum-vember
November is also Mum-vember at Lan Su Chinese Garden (503-228-8131). The whole month is dedicated to the chrysanthemum and they are celebrated with a cut flower display, educational talks and even plants for sale. One of the slogans for the Lan Su Chinese Garden is ‘never twice the same’ and a walk around the garden in November proves it! During the celebration you will learn about a lot of the lore surrounding mums. For over 2,000 years the Chinese have been growing and hybridizing these wonderful flowers. Did you know that the Chinese thought the chrysanthemum could give you long life. In fact there is one story of a lake in China that was surrounded by mums and if you were to drink the water from that lake it was supposed to give you 100 years of a happy and healthy life. That is why the Chinese would brew a tea made from the leaves of the plant and even made a rice wine with the leaves as well. Another part of mum-vember is the lotus boats that are on the lake at the garden. These boats are actually used to retrieve the seed heads from the lotus. These seeds are used in cooking, deserts and as treats. They are also having special chrysanthemum speakers and events throughout the month. There is something planned for every Saturday, so don’t forget to check the schedule on their website for more details. There are also a lot of plants that are showing off in the garden right now so stop by and enjoy the garden as well as mum-vember!